From the moment I saw my daughter’s sweet face on the ultrasound monitor, I have vowed to work toward only what is best for her. I want to give her the tools she will need to be successful in any adventure she tackles. She will not always agree with the decisions my husband and I make (and we WILL make the wrong decision from time-to-time) but our motivation is always what we feel she needs at that moment.
My husband and I are both educators. I teach science at the high school level and he teaches English at the collegiate level. We have already started introducing colors and numbers to our daughter. She is only ten months, but she already knows her primary colors! We both feel it is never too early to learn.
Last night we went to the fair and showed her all the different animals, and we found ourselves talking about their distinctive features, how each is adapted to its environment, and the different sounds each animal makes. Our daughter started mimicking the cows, which has become her favorite game. We had a fun night out and took as many opportunities as possible to explore teachable moments.
I often wonder if students today are losing the eagerness to learn. They are often too focused on Snapchats and text messages to really focus on the lesson at hand. If we break off during a lesson, it quickly becomes a social hour, and a lot of redirection needs to occur. The students do not want to do the work they need to do in order for them to learn and move on to the next grade level. They expect the easy A and quickly become frustrated when it’s not given to them. I hold my students accountable for their own learning. The opportunities I give them to succeed border on the ridiculous. I’m about fifteen years older than my students, and the nonexistent level of accountability expected from teenagers today compared to my time in high school is simply staggering.
Recently I received an anonymous note from my students, explaining to me how I do not aid them in succeeding in the classroom and do not teach them enough material. It is unfair how I expect them to take notes during class and have them remember the material for the next class or test.
Having to study and take notes…can you imagine?!?
As I was reading this note, I went through a series of emotions. I know there are different stages of grief, but I felt as if I went through different stages of RAGE. I started crying. I was amazed that a student could write this to an adult and not think twice about it or regret it. If my daughter ever did that to an adult, the consequences would be severe. I then started questioning how I was teaching and looked at my grades. I found a great bell curve statistically and noted that most of my students were indeed understanding the material. I eventually concluded that the note was total craziness. Every year there are bad eggs: these were mine.
The contents of the note were not true in any regard. Furthermore, the note itself was just plain rude. But that note was just an obvious symptom of a sickness that no one wants to admit exists because it’s so difficult to deal with: by removing accountability and treating students like helpless infants, we have lost their respect. They no longer fear consequences, and they know that we as educators are powerless to enforce the standards they need to meet to succeed.
Lately we’ve heard a lot of stories about well-off parents “buying” their children’s admission into the colleges of their choice. What are we teaching our children? How do actions such as this prepare them for their future careers? Students expect the grade and get what they want without having to put in any effort. It is becoming increasingly frustrating watching even smart, talented students behave in this manner. As an educator, it makes me sad and fearful for the future. These are the students who will become doctors, lawyers, politicians, and educators themselves. Who will prepare them for the struggles and stresses of adult life? Where will they learn the skills to cope with meeting deadlines and making grades and handling disappointments and learning from failure? Isn’t that what high school is for?
As a mother, I will be showing my daughter, through example, how to treat her elders and teachers. She may not be the smartest child or the best behaved at times, but she will be one of the hardest workers. She will become the person she was meant to be with the guidance and support of her family and teachers, because that’s what’s best for her.
Because that’s my job.